U.N. warns Syria fighting may get worse

June 27, 2012 at 6:51 PM
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NEW YORK, June 27 (UPI) -- The White House said Wednesday Syrian President Bashar Assad is brutalizing his own people and must step down from power.

Responding to Assad's remark that Syria is in a state of war, White House press secretary Jay Carney said: "In terms of Assad's comments, his observation about the situation in Syria is all the more profound because he created it. He caused it. The violence that is occurring there, the brutality that's being leveled against the Syrian people is of his own doing. …

"We are working with our international partners to continue to pressure Assad. We note the increasing number of defections that have taken place from the Assad regime and the Assad military. And we remain committed to a transition in Syria that cannot -- because of the choices he made -- include Assad," Carney added.

The U.N. Human Rights Council Wednesday warned the conflict has escalated dramatically in the past three months.

In a 20-page report, the council said hostilities by armed anti-government groups have taken on the contours of an insurrection while government forces perpetrate unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests and torture.

The report warned the situation may worsen in coming months unless the international community takes steps to end the violence.

In a related development, the U.N. Action Group for Syria announced it will meet in Switzerland Saturday to work out a plan for a cessation of violence.

Special Envoy Kofi Annan said he sent invitations to the foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members along with Turkey to attend the session in Geneva, the United Nations reported.

"The objectives of the action group for Syria are to identify steps and measures to secure full implementation of the six-point plan and Security Council Resolutions 2042 and 2043, including an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms," Annan said in a statement.

The United Nations estimates more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Syria since the uprising against Assad began about 16 months ago.

Seven people were killed Wednesday when insurgents stormed a television station outside the capital of Damascus, authorities said.

The attack on satellite broadcaster al-Ikhbaria occurred in the town of Drousha 14 miles south of Damascus, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

The privately owned station is a strong supporter of the Assad government.

On its Web site, SANA showed photographs of what it said were the wrecked studios and quoted Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi as saying the attackers caused "the worst massacre against journalism."

"This massacre won't go unpunished and the broadcast of the Syrian al-Ikhbaria satellite channel will not stop," al-Zoubi said.

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